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Disney Legends: Eleanor Audley

Eleanor Audley Maleficent

Actress Eleanor Audley was born in New York City on November 19, 1905.  Her career lead her to become a Disney legend.  Eleanor Audley provided the voice for Cinderella’s evil step-mother, Lady Tremaine in the 1950 Disney film.  For Disney’s production of Sleeping Beauty, she was once again asked to voice the film’s villain.   She initially turned down the roll because she was fighting tuberculosis.  Later, she decided to accept this role and went on to become the voice of  the evil Maleficent.

For the roles of Lady Tremaine and Maleficent, Eleanor Audley also served as the live action model for the animators.  She dressed up in a costume similar to that of the one worn by Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty in order to help the animators better visualize what needed to be drawn for the film.  Animator Marc Davis modeled the facial features of both Disney villains after those of his live action model.

Eleanor Audley’s contribution to The Walt Disney Company is not limited to film alone.  She also provided the voice of a classic character from the Haunted Mansion attraction at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  Her voice can be heard as Madame Leota speaking the memorable lines “Rap on a table.  It’s time to respond.  Send us a message from somewhere beyond.”

For her contributions in Disney film and in the Haunted Mansion, Eleanor Audley is regarded as a Disney legend.  To this day, both children and adults still enjoy hearing her in the classic Disney films of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.  For many, including myself, a trip to a Disney park is not complete without a ride through the Haunted Mansion to hear Madame Leota.  She will be remembered for years to come as a legend of The Walt Disney Company.

photo credit: Gilderic Photography via photopin cc

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